For those of us who love cultural immersion I present information on how to find Community Based Tourism in Guatemala. Community Based Tourism (CBT) will give you the experience of sharing daily life with indigenous families in rural areas. They will provide accommodation and food and show you the highlights of their region. Joining this initiative of indigenous people in an excellent way to support the local economy.
What is Community Based Tourism in Guatemala?
CBT in Guatemala is an activity managed by Mayan indigenous communities and travel agencies in the main rural regions of the country. They organize the placement of travelers in local accommodations, activities, and tours.
The authenticity of CBT comes from the local families who receives travelers in their homes or in hotels run by Mayan communities. Destinations such as lagoons, natural parks, cenotes (natural cave systems filled with water where you can swim), viewpoints and museums are collectively owned by the locals who are part of these indigenous community tourism organizations.
Activities within Community Based Tourism
CBT activities in Guatemala are focused on cultural immersion. So, it is possible to:
- Visit Mayan villages.
- Visit indigenous women’s weaving associations where you can take classes and workshops.
- Hike in natural parks with local guides.
- Take temazcales o Mayan saunas.
- Tour Mayan museums and cultural centers.
- Explore local markets.
- Enjoy coffee, chocolate and gastronomic tours with local guides.
Why is Community Based Tourism important?
Community Based Tourism in Guatemala is an excellent way to promote the economy in indigenous communities that depend on agriculture and the sale of handicrafts. In addition, it is the ideal opportunity to support local collective enterprises, based on the sense of community so deeply rooted in the Mayan people.
CBT in Guatemala is focused on sustainability, eco-friendly practices and economic growth for small indigenous communities. It also reinforces their cultural identity through your interactions with the lifestyle of Mayans, their local traditions and historic places. Therefore, there is no more authentic and meaningful way to travel in Guatemala than with Community Based Tourism.
5 Travel Agencies doing Community Based Tourism in Guatemala
It is likely that in your search you will find some destinations and tourist activities that clain to belong to CBT, but in fact they don’t. This may lead to a bad experience in the cost, destination or overall organization of your trip.
You need to know exactly which local agencies organize Community Based Tourism in Guatemala. To this end, below you will find the 5 travel agencies doing CBT in Guatemala with the best-prepared local guides for a complete and satisfactory experience.
GUATE4YOU is the Community Based Tourism travel agency par excellence. Its approach is cultural immersion with an emphasis on minimizing the environmental impacto on the indigenous villages in which the tours take place. The team works directly with Mayan communities organizing itineraries with transportation, accommodations and visits. Since 2015 this well-established agency has as its mission to preserve the natural and cultural richness of the Mayan people. The tours come in four categories: culture, photography, nature, and adventure.
2. Etnica Travel
Etnica Travel is a local travel agency specialized in CBT. The collaborators are people belonging to the indigenous communities of Guatemala. I highlight the projects focused on social awareness and collective resilience of the Mayan communities. Traveling with Etnica guarantees a complete community experience in which you will get to know Guatemala at its most authentic. Its tours come in the following categories: cultura, nature, trekking and climbing volcanoes, Mayan Caribbean coastal areas, and Mayan ruins. The team organizes your stay in the homes of local indigenous families.
3. Pathways Guatemala Tours
Pathways Guatemala Tours is owned by Laura Velasquez, a Guatemalan archeologist, teacher, and tour guide with extensive experience is valuing and transmitting the cultural and natural wealth of Guatemala. The expertise of Pathways Guatemala Tours guarantees it to be one of the best agencies doing Community Based Tourism in Guatemala. Ms. Velasques works as a link between travelers and communities, especially in lesser-known destinations around the country. On the website you will find the destinations and special trips by theme and season, including the most important and festive traditions of Guatemala.
4. Community Based Tourism Maya Ixil
Community Based Tourism Maya Ixil is a travel agency managed entirely by local indigenous people from the Maya Ixil region of Guatemala. They are a Mayan people with an overwhelming cultural and natural richness. You can visit three of the purest indigenous villages in the country. This is a region rarely visited by travelers due to its remoteness and the fact that very few travel agencies organize this destination. Therefore, you will have the privilege of supporting one of the most authentic Community Based Tourism projects in Guatemala and have a cultural immersion, staying in the homes of Mayan families and sharing traditional local food with them. Please take note that the local people and the team don’t speak English, so you need to have at least a basic understanding of Spanish.
5. Kukul Tales
Kukul Tales is a tour operator specialized in gastronomic tours. It was founded by a Guatemala chef motivated to tell the stories and Mayan cultural knowledge behind each culinary recipe in Guatemala. That is why the food tours include a detailed explanation of the origin and cultural importance of the preparation and use of ingredients. Every taste, smell and texture of the food is shared with the Mayan women who prepare it. Kukul Tales is the perfect connection between travelers and local through food. You can take cooking classes, tour communal markets, see gastronomic demonstrations and do a loquat (a subtropical fruit also known as “Japanese plum”) tour in San Juan del Obispo, a Mayan village very close to Antigua.
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